High tea and apres ski; TASTE II Enjoy a taste of the Alps this Christmas - without leaving Wales. Ruth Mosalski checked into the Angel in Abergavenny.
But if a ski holiday is a little bit of a stretch, you can soak it in a little closer to home in Abergavenny.
The Angel Hotel has created its own Alpine haven in the courtyard with the creation of their ski lodge. On offer are festive drinks, tunes and food.
We started our visit with a vin brule - a lovely take on a mulled wine with sugar pyramids doused in brandy before being set alight. But you can also pick from sloe gin or wheat beer.
We tucked into a cheese fondue, made of three types of cheese and with potatoes and bread from the Angel's own bakery to accompany.
Sat with a glass of red, watching the world go by outside, you really could have been in any ski resort in the world - thankfully for us, it was just a little closer to home.
And, you can pose for a memento picture on their very own ski lift - to try to convince your friends you went for a weekend ski getaway.
The Angel is a foodie haven and its afternoon tea has a legendary status.
But at this time of year, it's less about strawberries and more about cranberries. So the afternoon tea has been given a festive facelift and we gladly tucked in. There are three tiers of goodies on offer - warm savouries, sweet treats and sandwiches.
We tried three teas, selected to complement each. From the warm section you can expect sausages, chicken pastries or blue cheese and pear if you're vegetarian. The sandwiches include those you'd expect, cucumber, salmon and egg, but the festive twist is turkey cranberry.
Then for the sweet treats, there is their signature custard slice, a cherry yule log and coffee eclairs. The yule log was a particular favourite, with the sour cherry biting through the chocolate. The mini mince pies were delicious and there were slices of traditional Christmas fruitcake.
In the centre was a lovely bright pink meringue which was so soft and gooey.
If you had any space left, there were pots of trifle and warm scones too.
Thankfully, there was a bed nearby for us to collapse into. The Angel itself has luxurious rooms, but its sister venue the Abergavenny Hotel is also open to guests.
To make a proper getaway of it, it's definitely worth trying to book in. We were staying in the converted stables - a bolthole within the hotel - and the luxurious room was very much welcomed.
The following morning, after two decadent meals and one of the Angel's tasty breakfasts, we needed to walk it off.
We were met by Anna and Luke from Drover Holidays, who took us on a guided walk around some of the area's most beautiful spots.
We took in the Castle Meadows and strolled along the canal before a slightly more arduous trek up through the hilly woods to see the three ubiquitous hills in their full glory.
On our own we'd probably just have been lazy and avoided taking up the natural beauty of the surrounding area. Being shown the sights by guides who know the area meant we not only started the walk but learned plenty and challenged ourselves more than we would have.
We often forget what's on our doorstep - the Angel and the natural beauty of Abergavenny is a great example. Less than an hour's drive from Cardiff, on a train line, and with plenty to show off in its shops, hotels and restaurants, we should all make the most of it.
Especially those cakes. You really should try those cakes...
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW | Festive high tea is being served every day between 2pm and 5pm Monday to Friday and 1pm to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays in the Wedgewood Room. Festive High Tea is also available in private dining rooms for groups of eight or more. It costs PS30 per person and a glass of champagne can be added on for PS10 | The Apres Ski Bar is open Friday, Saturday and Sundays. On Fridays it is open from 5pm to 10pm and on Saturday from noon to 10pm. On Sundays it is open from noon until 9pm. It can also be booked out for private groups. Thursdays have a special fondue menu for PS35 per person and "Wurst Wednesdays" are being held on December 13 and 20 | Drover Holidays is an independent tour operator based in the Brecon Beacons National Park. Established in 2007, Drover offers escorted and selfguided walking and cycling holidays across the length and breadth of Wales. www.droverholidays.co.uk | To find out more about The Angel, visit www.angelabergavenny.com or call 01873 857121
<B Festive high tea at the Angel Hotel in Abergavenny